A humorous and effective early reader that meets the standard set by this successful series.


From the I Like To Read series

In Meisel’s latest dog-themed early reader (See Me Dig, 2013, etc.), a pack of determined dogs chases after a yellow tennis ball by using a hot air balloon, a speedboat, and a pink convertible.

The simple, predictable text uses just four or five words per double-page spread, with elementary sentence structures that are accessible to new readers. The story begins with an olive-skinned human (shown only from the shoulders down) ready to throw the ball for the waiting dogs. Several sentences are repeated with the change of just one word as the ball is taken in turn by a bird, a whale, and a lion. The amusing canines can conjure up whatever help they need in their joint effort, taking off in a hot air balloon to chase after the bird, zooming across open water in pursuit of the whale, and speeding after the lion in their sporty pink convertible. The smiling lion suddenly stops and swallows the ball, ending the chase. The concluding page finds the playful pups whisked back home where they started, with the human character now ready to throw a stick. The illustrations provide plenty of motion, appealing animal characters, and funny details such as the tennis ball clenched in the whale’s jaws.

A humorous and effective early reader that meets the standard set by this successful series. (Early reader. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 11, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3832-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: March 12, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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Hee haw.

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The print version of a knee-slapping cumulative ditty.

In the song, Smith meets a donkey on the road. It is three-legged, and so a “wonky donkey” that, on further examination, has but one eye and so is a “winky wonky donkey” with a taste for country music and therefore a “honky-tonky winky wonky donkey,” and so on to a final characterization as a “spunky hanky-panky cranky stinky-dinky lanky honky-tonky winky wonky donkey.” A free musical recording (of this version, anyway—the author’s website hints at an adults-only version of the song) is available from the publisher and elsewhere online. Even though the book has no included soundtrack, the sly, high-spirited, eye patch–sporting donkey that grins, winks, farts, and clumps its way through the song on a prosthetic metal hoof in Cowley’s informal watercolors supplies comical visual flourishes for the silly wordplay. Look for ready guffaws from young audiences, whether read or sung, though those attuned to disability stereotypes may find themselves wincing instead or as well.

Hee haw. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: May 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-545-26124-1

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 29, 2018

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Energetic and earnest but not groundbreaking.


Unlikely friends Bear and Rabbit face fears together.

The anthropomorphic creatures set out on an adventure. Graphic-based illustrations give the book a Pixar movie feel, with a variety of page layouts that keep the story moving. Large blocks of black text are heavy on dialogue patterns as timid Bear and bold Rabbit encounter obstacles. Bear fears every one of them, from the stream to the mountain. He’ll do anything to avoid the objects of terror: taking a bus, a train, and even a helicopter. As Rabbit asks Bear if he’s frightened, Bear repeatedly responds, “I’m not scared, you’re scared!” and children will delight in the call-and-response opportunities. Adults may tire of the refrain, but attempts to keep everyone entertained are evident in asides about Bear's inability to brush food from his teeth (he’s too afraid to look at himself in the mirror) and Rabbit's superstrong ears (which do come in handy later). When Rabbit finds herself in danger after Bear defects on the adventure, Bear retraces the trip. Along the way, he notes that the stream wasn't as deep, nor the mountain as high, as he thought when he was scared. While picture-book shelves may not be screaming for another comedically sweet bear story, especially one that treads such familiar territory, many readers will appreciate this tale of overcoming fears. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Energetic and earnest but not groundbreaking. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: March 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35237-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Flamingo Books

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2022

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